If you’ve been following the recent nutrition trends, you might have seen an increase in gluten-free products and the promotion of their use. With the increasing number of published books, articles and many celebrities promoting a gluten-free lifestyle, you might be wondering whether gluten is bad for you.
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The start of a new year is the perfect time to make changes in our lives. Many of us wait for this moment to start some sort of behavioral change as a New Year’s resolution. When deciding on a goal, one way to ensure that you’re going to be successful is to make them into S.M.A.R.T goals.
Written by Cheyenne Watts | Reviewed by Jennifer Calo MS, RDN, CDN, CDE, CLT
LET’S RAISE AWARENESS!
In February of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the first National Heart Month to raise awareness of cardiovascular health, the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Often people will wear red to honor the holiday, to remember those who have lost their lives to heart disease, and resolve to improve its prevention, detection, and treatment. Scientific research proves that diet plays a big role in the prevention and intervention of cardiovascular disease and stroke. One such heart-healthy food is the focus of our recipe article of the month: beets!
WHY EAT BEETS?
Beets contain naturally occurring nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Beets also contain a nutrient called betaine which helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It's also known to help fight inflammation and may prevent cardiovascular disease. According to Dr. Axe, there have been promising studies that suggest betaine boosts muscle mass and strength, aides in improved endurance, and helps to lower fat in the body.
While beets may stain your teeth and skin the color of Barney the Dinosaur, the very phytonutrients that give red beets their deep color contain some anti-cancerous properties. The flavonoid betazyane in beets has proven to inhibit tumor growth, and high iron content increases cellular respiration which allows the body to kill cancer cells.
Along with it’s superpower properties, beets contain many micronutrients necessary in our diet such as fiber, calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, folic acid, manganese, and potassium.
HOW CAN I ENJOY BEETS?
Here’s the thing: we know that some people have not eaten and will not eat a beet. You may think that beets are “yucky”, “weird”, or have an “odd texture”. That’s alright! We are here to provide you with three recipes to assist you in introducing this nutrient-dense and healthful root vegetable into your diet. You won’t even know you’re eating beets! Except your food might be pink… but that’s more festive anyway!
ROASTED BEET HUMMUS by Minimalist Baker
Prep time 10 mins
Total time 10 mins
Super creamy roasted beet hummus featuring a whole roasted beet, lemon, plenty of garlic flavor. Perfect with chips, pita, veggies or as a sandwich spread. (Vegan)
1 small roasted beet
1 15 oz. can (1 3/4 cup) cooked chickpeas, mostly drained
zest of one large lemon
juice of half a large lemon
pinch salt and black pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°F, remove the stem and most of the root from your beets, and scrub and wash them underwater until clean.
Wrap beets in foil, drizzle on a bit of canola oil, wrap tightly, and roast for one hour or until a knife inserted falls out without resistance. They should be tender. Set in the fridge (in a bowl to catch juice) to cool to room temperature.
Once your beet is cooled and peeled, quarter it and place it in your food processor. Blend until only small bits remain.
Add remaining ingredients except for olive oil and blend until smooth.
Drizzle in olive oil as the hummus is mixing.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt, lemon juice or olive oil if needed. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water.
Will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Serving size: 1/6 batch
Calories: 165 Fat: 12g Carbohydrates: 12g Sugar: 1.2g Fiber: 2.6g Protein: 3.4g
BERRY, BEET, MINT, LIME, AND CHIA SEED SMOOTHIE by Claire Saffitz for Bon Appetit
Choose whichever alternative milk you’d like- nut milks add body and protein, but if you prefer something lighter, go with coconut water.
¾ cup almond milk
¾ cup frozen blackberries and/or blueberries
¼ cup grated beet (from about 1 small)
¼ cup mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of kosher salt
Using smoothie or ice crush setting, purée almond milk, blackberries, beet, mint, lime juice, chia seeds, honey, salt, and ½ cup ice in a blender until smooth.
Pour and serve.
Serving size: ½ recipe
Calories: 173 Carbohydrates: 35g Protein: 3.5g Fat: 6g Sugars: 25g Fiber: 8g
BARLEY AND KALE SALAD WITH GOLDEN BEETS AND FETA by Jeanne Kelly for Bon Appetit
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 bunch Tuscan kale***, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch squares
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 medium golden beets (about 1 bunch), trimmed
1 1/4 cups pearl barley
4 ounces feta, crumbled
2 teaspoons (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar
***Tuscan kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Lacinato kale, or cavolo nero, has long, narrow, very dark green bumpy leaves and is available at farmers' markets and some supermarkets.
Whisk 1/4 cup oil, white wine vinegar, sugar, and orange zest in a large bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Add kale and shallots; mix until completely coated. Cover and chill until kale is tender, at least 3 hours.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°. Arrange beets in a small baking dish and drizzle with a little oil. Season with salt and turn beets to coat. Cover with foil. Bake beets until tender when pierced with a thin knife, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely. Peel beets. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces (you should have about 2 cups).
Cook barley in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 45 minutes. Drain barley and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet; let cool completely.
Add beets, barley, and feta to kale. Drizzle salad with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons rice vinegar; fold gently to combine. Season to taste with pepper and more rice vinegar, if desired.
DO AHEAD Salad can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Serving size: ¼ recipe
Calories: 550 Fat: 27g Carbohydrates: 66g Dietary Fiber: 14g Sugars: 7g Protein: 15g
Written by Desireeh Chevere | Reviewed by Jennifer Calo MS, RDN, CDN, CLT
Calling all seafood lovers! Have you heard of the popular new food trend, Hawaiian Poke? The dish has been around for centuries but has become increasingly popular in NYC in the last couple of years. Poke (pronounced “poh-KAY”) means “chunk” in Hawaiian and it is a raw seafood salad cut into chunks, often marinated with soy sauce and sesame oil. There are many variations of the dish, but the most common is raw tuna in a marinade with onions, scallions, and seaweed. It is similar to tartare and ceviche, but with a bolder, less acidic flavor. Not only is Poke a delicious and colorful meal, it offers nutritional benefits as well!
Fish is a great source of protein that is overall low in calories and saturated fat. Poke is rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids that can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, while also improving other cardiovascular risk factors. According to the American Heart Association, eating fish in moderation, such as twice a week, can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Fish intake can also lower your risk of mental decline and depression. While fish does contain mercury, research confirms the benefits of omega-3s far outweigh the risk of mercury contamination. Those concerned about the mercury levels of fish can opt for salmon, which is significantly lower in mercury than tuna.
There are endless varieties of Poke, and you can even make it at home! Make sure to purchase local, very fresh sashimi or sushi-grade fish. All you need is your choice of fish (salmon or tuna), vegetables (edamame, onions, carrots, or cucumber), soy sauce, sesame oil, and the best part- the seasonings! Have fun experimenting with wasabi, ginger, scallions, and even avocado for a savory flavorful meal.
This delicious food trend gets the stamp of approval from Registered Dietitian Nutritionists!
True Or False: I have to eliminate dairy for weight loss
Written by Kelli Baker | Reviewed by Jennifer Calo MS, RDN, CDN, CDE, CLT
The idea that you need to eliminate dairy for weight loss is false. This statement has been emphasized recently in the media due to the popularity of certain diets like Paleo and “Whole 30” who claim that dairy is inflammatory, disrupts hormone balance and slows metabolism. These unsubstantiated claims often scare people away from a great source of nutrition that may be just fine for them to consume. In the past, the dairy industry touted that consumption of milk could actually promote weight loss. It is no wonder people are confused by all the mixed messages surrounding dairy intake! As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Dairy is not a miracle food that allows the weight to just shed off nor is it the enemy for weight loss. The truth is that unless you are lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy or sensitivity there is no reason why it can’t be part of your daily balanced diet.
There are many benefits to dairy that you could be missing by eliminating it from your diet entirely. To start, dairy is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. For example, one cup of skim milk contains 8g of protein, 299mg calcium and only 83 calories while a 6g container of cottage cheese provides 20g of protein, 154mg of calcium and 146 calories. Similarly a 6oz container of plain nonfat greek yogurt has 18g of protein, 201mg calcium and 100 calories per serving. The combination of protein and carbohydrate in milk makes it an excellent post workout recovery meal. Additionally, dairy products like yogurt and kefir provide the body with necessary probiotics helping to stimulate healthy digestive function.
Of course we want to watch out for added sugars and saturated fat when choosing dairy products. When consuming dairy, be wary of yogurts that have added sugar. It is best to get plain yogurt and add your own fruits, nuts and/or granola for flavor. Also, be aware of the fat content of the dairy you are choosing and the portion sizes. It is okay to consume some cheese that contains a higher fat content such as 1%, 2% or full fat, but just be sure to limit the portion size to about 1 ounce daily, to keep calories in check. Additionally, it will be important to balance out the amount of saturated fat throughout your day. For example, if you choose to consume whole milk in your morning coffee and cereal or some cheese in your midday sandwich, you might choose a leaner cut of meat for lunch and dinner like chicken breast or turkey. The key is to create balance through moderation and choose the lower fat options as much as possible.
If weight loss is your goal, remember that dairy can be an important nutritional component providing an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals and probiotics. Unless you are having difficulty digesting dairy or have an allergy towards it, there is no reason to be afraid that it will hinder your weight loss efforts!
Main Article: Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health
Written by Arielle Kestenbaum | Reviewed by Jennifer Calo, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT
With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, many of us are starting to ponder romantic gifts, flowers, and of course, chocolate! For many years, chocolate has been a treat near and dear to many. It has become a “feel good” food, that unfortunately has developed a negative connotation over the years. What if you were told that chocolate may not actually be as bad for you as you thought? Well, this is true! Chocolate, in moderation, can in fact have protective qualities, specifically for our cardiovascular systems. The important part is to know which kind of chocolate and how much can be helpful in keeping our hearts healthy and strong.
The main ingredient in any chocolate bar is cocoa bean. Cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients called flavonoids. Flavonoids are considered to be an antioxidant, which means that they can help the body resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, as well as from environmental contaminants.
Antioxidants sources help to prevent LDL (or bad cholesterol particles) from damaging artery walls. Research has shown that cocoa reduces levels of LDL cholesterol, in addition to slowing the rate at which LDL oxidizes. In addition to the antioxidant qualities of chocolate, research suggests that the flavonoids, specifically flavanols, have the potential to improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, and allowing for normal blood clotting by platelets.
Of course, not all forms of chocolate have the same kind of positive effects on our heart, as they don’t all contain high levels of flavanols. For example, 70% cocoa chocolate has a much more bitter taste than 50% due to greater concentration of flavanols and reduced sugar content. It is important to avoid chocolate that is labeled “processed with alkali” which reduces the flavanols. We recommend looking for brands that contain at least 70% cocoa, and limiting to 1 oz portion per day. Check the ingredient list to make sure cocoa is the first ingredient listed, and not sugar. Some great brands to look for include: Green and Black’s, Pascha, Ghirardelli Intense Dark, and Vivani. Organic brands are best to avoid artificial chemicals and sweeteners. Consuming 1 oz dark chocolate daily can actually reduce blood cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, in addition to satisfying your sweet tooth!
So for now, it’s important to enjoy chocolate in moderation a few times per week, as we want its effects to remain positive in keeping us both happy and healthy!
Looking for the perfect side dish, something nutritious, in season and full of flavor? Well, your February “go-to” vegetable is Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, so they are loaded with omega-3s, fiber as well as vitamins K, A, and C.
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